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The head of Victoria's testing team says the lack of new cases emerging from tests processed in Melbourne's northern suburbs on Sunday was a "good development".
All of the 1135 tests analysed from the area around the city's current major outbreak had come back negative, Victoria's health department confirmed on Sunday evening.
Testing in places like Heidelberg West has been ramped up in Melbourne’s northern suburbs as a result of a cluster with 39 cases. Credit:Luis Enrique Ascui
There were six new cases revealed in the northern suburbs on Sunday, with the cluster now totaling 39 cases across 11 households.
Commander of testing and community engagement Jeroen Weimar said it was an "encouraging sign" that zero positive cases had turned up in tests analysed on Sunday.
Another 1400 tests completed on Sunday by residents in and around the outbreak zone are now in the lab.
"Obviously it’s a good development that of all those 1100 or so samples overnight, no positive results from that," Mr Weimar told 7News.
"We’ve been working very hard over the last few days with all of the community out in the northern suburbs to get this under control.
The latest results from the state's testing regime came after Premier Daniel Andrews announced metropolitan Melbourne would not be taking any steps out of lockdown on Sunday, due to a number of unprocessed tests.
But he indicated he would likely provide an update about when the city's restrictions would change on Tuesday, once more test results related to the cluster were received.
"Those test results will come back and hopefully what they will show us is not just some additional cases … but that those cases are linked, and that we know that there is a chain of transmission," Mr Andrews said.
“This is not anything other than a cautious pause … This is not a setback. It is simply waiting and being led by the data, being led by the science."
About 250 tests of first-ring close contacts – those who had direct contact with known cases – were tested on Saturday. On Sunday, a further 60 were expected to be tested, mostly from the East Preston Islamic College and Croxton special school which will remain closed this week.
One key metric for the next step of reopening has been reached in Victoria: a 14-day rolling average of fewer than five cases per day across the state.
But the number of mystery cases remains at nine across two weeks, which is higher than the five mystery cases originally required for the next reopening stage in the state’s roadmap.
Mr Weimar said as the results from Melbourne's north roll in, there will be a renewed focus on probing mystery cases.
"We’re tracking down where we have remaining cases of community transmission, and that’s a very serious thing," he said.
"It’s very important as we’re about to take this next significant step that we have all aspects of community transmission under control to make sure we never have to go back to the place we’ve been over recent months.
"We can not let up at this point. We have worked so hard to get here, we have to continue to ensure people do come forward to get tested."
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